I had the pleasure of stepping on board the Norwegian Star while it was docked in Dublin recently. This was my first time to see a Norwegian cruise ship, check out my review 🙂
The first thing that needs to be said is that despite the name, Norwegian Cruise Line is actually American! It also cruises all over the world and not just to Norway and the Baltics… Avid cruisers may well know both of these important facts but it is amazing how many people are mislead by their name! They have been cruising for 50 years, have 14 ships and they have received the World Travel Award as Europe’s leading cruise line for the ninth year in a row! Norwegian’s slogan is free style cruising and they provide just that. Everything on board is relaxed, with flexible dining and casual dress – you can leave your cocktail dresses and dinner jackets at home!
The Star is one of Norwegian’s older ships. Built in 2001, it was refurbished in 2015 as part of Norwegian’s ongoing $400 million extensive upgrade of it’s fleet. (They claim that their ships will look better than the day they were launched!) Although relatively small in today’s cruising terms ( carries 2348 passengers), it still has 15 dining options and 11 bars! You can sip Champagne in Gatsby’s Champagne bar or drink a wide selection of international beers in the outdoor Bier Garten. There are two main dining rooms (menus are changed daily) as well as a variety of cafés and fast food outlets, all included in the price of your cruise. They also have many speciality dining options, which incur a separate charge. We had lunch in the Teppanyaki restaurant and it was excellent. We had wasabi cocktails with mouthwatering prawns and fillet steak, all cooked in front of us. The chefs even showed us their tricks and got the whole group involved. It was a fantastic experience and one I would highly recommend. This room only seats 12 at a time so make sure you make a reservation at the start of your cruise, or even before hand.
The pool deck comes complete with two waterslides and six hot tubs. This is great for families although if you fancy a quiet place to swim, you should visit the indoor lap pool in the Spa. There is a charge to use the indoor pool, jacuzzi and hydropool however, I was a little surprised at this. There is also a fitness centre with a jogging track, a golf driving net and a volleyball/basketball court – so plenty of ways to expend some energy on board.
The kids facilities on board are excellent. There are slides in the main pool but also in the kids pool. This is equipped with two rocket-shaped slides and a kid’s hot tub. Their kids clubs offer activities for kids from 3 -12 including a cinema and a jungle gym. They also have crèche facilities for babies from 6 months old. For teenagers the ‘Entourage’ program offers activities from age 13-17. They have their own exclusive teen-only area, with a jukebox, dance floor and a communal area to ‘hang out’. This area comes equipped with computers, an air hockey table and a video gaming zone. And this is where is gets really interesting….. Parents can have a ‘Date Night’ where kids are supervised and dropped back to your cabin before 1am!
Speaking of ‘date night’, Norwegian has a massive theatre showing the latest West-End style shows. The theatre holds 1000 people so you don’t need to make a reservation. If shows are not your thing, there are plenty of bars with live music as well as their own in house entertainment shows. Norwegian are renowned for their top class entertainment both in their theatres and throughout their ships.
Norwegian’s newer and larger ships, Breakaway, Escape, Getaway and Epic have even more features. You will find that ten pin bowling, rock climbing and state of the art aqua parks are the norm (see image below). They are also famous for their rope courses which have zip lines and planks that hang over the side of the ship – definitely not for the faint hearted! Sadly they are too big to fit into Dublin Port so I’ll have to actually go on one of their cruise holidays to see them properly 😉 Fortunately, Epic will be cruising from Barcelona for Summer 2017 and there are some excellent early booking offers, including free drinks packages, free speciality dining packages, free wifi and even free spending money – so watch this space!
Norwegian’s freestyle cruising brings more than just flexible dining. Their action packed cruises will ensure you have a fun filled holiday with top class entertainment and activities on board. So leave the cocktail dresses at home, pre book the all-inclusive drinks package and simply enjoy 🍹
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